Six Cypress College Students, Instructor Bring MP3 Player to Market
What started in a written class assignment, a daughter's broken phone and a desire for an A has turned into an international business for six Cypress College students and their Management and Marketing instructor. The group has brought the Plugggg a small, durable and low-cost MP3 music player to market. Student Todd Applebaum sat down to discuss the device. Video recorded on 12/7/11.
In what may be the ultimate David vs. Goliath business battle, a group of Cypress College students and their Management and Marketing instructor enter the holiday retail season with the introduction of a brand new digital music player.
The six students and faculty member Susan Hunter teamed up to evolve the credit-card-sized device from a written class assignment to a product that went on sale roughly a month after the world's largest company Apple, Inc. introduced it's latest music-playing smart phone.
The Plugggg is at the opposite end of the spectrum, in terms of cost and slick features. At $29.95, the device holds about 2,000 songs, integrates with in-car navigation systems, and won't shatter when dropped a feature that prompted its creation.
All team members, including founder Todd Applebaum, derive a significant measure of pride in the fact that everyone involved is connected to Cypress College.
"We're very proud of what it turned out to be," said Applebaum. "I'm not going to be shy, when Susan came on board and started guiding us with it, I felt proud to be a part of Cypress College and this project. This is stuff that you hear from your MITs and your Harvards. Here we are a community college."
About 18 months ago, Applebaum enrolled at Cypress College after the business he ran for 20 years collapsed under the weight of the stalling economy. Applebaum, who had lived near the college for about a dozen years, said he selected the campus because of it's proximity to his home and an affinity developed while regularly walking the track or shopping at the swap meet.
While enrolled in a course with Hunter, Applebaum's daughter dropped her new smart phone while using it to play music as she walked home from school. At roughly the same time, Hunter presented students with an assignment in which they conceptualized a new product or a significant evolution in an existing product category.
An indestructible, small, and cost-friendly music player seemed like a good way for Applebaum to earn himself an A, he noted while discussing the product this week.
That's when concept met reality.
Classmate Allen Chen explained to him how emerging technology made the device possible. Further, Chen's family in Taiwan (where he is now attending a university) was involved in the tech-manufacturing business.
"A lot of good ideas never come to implementation," Hunter said of the assignments she has given since she began as an adjunct faculty member at Cypress College in 1992. "But, Todd actually took the idea and ran with it."
In addition to Hunter, Applebaum, and Chen, students Eric Phan, Derek Ameler, Anthony Gober, and Daniel Meza are involved in Plugggg with responsibilities ranging from advertising to photography to the website.
"We have white. We have black. We have Vietnamese. We have Chinese, Korean. We just have every mixture of people together on this project," Applebaum said. "We're like your Neapolitan ice cream."
Instructor Susan Hunter sat down to discuss the Plugggg MP3 player and her students who developed the device. Video recorded on 12/7/11
Posted by Marc S. Posner